I’ve reached the halfway point in the book, and I thought it was time to give you a glimpse. It doesn’t have a title yet and final edits still need to be made, but here ya go.
The main characters (so far) are:
* Zach, a bisexual actor on the cusp of being famous, who’s keeping his orientation on the DL.
* Sky, a pre-op transwoman herbalist living in Laurel Canyon.
* Ricky, Zach’s old high school buddy, who just split with his wife.
* Andy, Zach’s best friend on the west coast.
* Augie Fischer, Sky’s lesbian shrink
and a few others I won’t detail now. 🙂
Zach didn’t realize how drunk he was until after he left the club and tried to get into the car. His foot slipped off the running board twice, and he stopped, swaying slightly, looking at his friend over the top of the vehicle.
“Can’t drive, Andy.” He closed the door and leaned against it. “What shape are you in?”
Grinning, Andy came around to the driver’s side. “Better than you, by far.” He opened the door. “Get in, slide over, and open the window in case you need to puke.”
Laughing, Zach crawled in, climbed over the center console, and collapsed in the passenger seat. “Not gonna puke. I never puke.”
Andy got behind the wheel, inserted the key, and started the car. “Bullshit. What about the time we were at that party in the Hills? You know, last summer.”
“Sarah’s birthday party? Oh, yeah, I did kind of lose it that night, didn’t I?” Slipping down onto his tailbone, he put his sneakered feet up on the dash, bracing himself against movement.
Snorting, Andy merged into traffic. “The inside of that car had to be cleaned twice.”
Zach giggled. “Sorry. Promise! No upchucking tonight.”
“Hey, I don’t give a shit. It’s your car.”
They laughed as they headed down Santa Monica Boulevard. It was a chilly night with a light breeze. Zach wished he could see the stars, but the light pollution was so bad, nothing in the heavens was visible.
“You were hitting the liquor hard. What’s up?”
Zach was still peering up through the windshield, trying to see anything other than the light umbrella over the city. “Can’t sleep lately. I thought it might help.”
Andy shook his head. “No, no, you pass out on liquor, but then you’re awake again a few hours later.”
Leaning back in the seat, he glanced at his friend. “Then what do you suggest?”
“I know someone who can fix you right up. You don’t have anything against natural herbs and stuff, do you?”
“Herbs are good. Minimal side effects, right?”
“Right. I know someone.” He pulled into the right-hand turn lane at the next light. “Ever heard of Sky?”
Zach burst into laughter. “What, that stuff over our head? Supposed to be blue but is often a dirty gray? Yeah, I have a passing familiarity with it.”
“Asshole. I’m talking about a person. Sky is sort of the unofficial herbalist in this town. Does her own distillations, sells them to whoever wants them. Also happens to read palms, and I swear to god, she’s psychic. The real thing, not like those twits who talk to you over the phone for five bucks a minute.” He turned left, then right again, heading into LaurelCanyon. “She told me the woman I was seeing a few months ago was shagging someone else, and I found out a week later she was.”
Zach rolled his eyes. “In this town, everyone is shagging everyone else. That’s not prescience, it’s a fact.”
“Fine, don’t believe me, but she can fix you up with something that will help you sleep naturally. I’m taking you there now.”
Zach sat up and looked out the window. “It’s after eleven. Don’t you think that’s a strange time of night to call on a lady?”
“She keeps late hours,” Andy assured him, taking out his cell. “I’ll call her, though, make sure she’s cool with it. You always call Sky before you visit.”
He sketched a shrug. “It’s one of her rules. I figure she’s protecting her clients. I mean, who in this town wants people to know you get your fortune read, right? It’s ringing.”
Andy drove one-handed while Zach leaned his head against the window, watching the city lights stream by. No one would care if people knew you got your fortune read. That was Hollywood.
He was nicely buzzed and feeling very good: his series was on hiatus for the next two weeks, giving him a much-needed break. He was leaving for Sydney on vacation the next day, and Kris was going with him, but that was okay. She understood how things worked. She wouldn’t get in the way.
After Australia, he’d visit his parents in New York City. That meant more fun. He smiled. Zach had the greatest life ever, and he knew it.
“… We’re about twenty minutes away,” Andy was saying. He listened for a moment. “Nope, won’t stay long. Thanks, Sky.” He ended the call. “All set. She has another appointment after, so we’ll have to make it quick.”
“Sure.” Zach pulled his long legs up on the seat and wrapped his arms around them while his blood fizzed with alcohol. He was determined the next couple of weeks be an adventure. Tonight was the kick-off.
Andy pulled up in front of a heavily landscaped property, behind which pools of golden light glowed; lamps from inside the house, he assumed.
Fumbling with the door latch, he sort of fell out of the car, stumbled over the curb, straightened, and realized he needed relief immediately. “Wait,” he said softly to Andy. “Gotta water a tree first.”
He heard Andy chuckling as he found a suitable place to drain his bladder. As he zipped up, he felt somewhat less drunk and wondered if he was imagining that. Did dumping about a gallon of liquid at the base of a maple tree constitute an impending return to a more sober frame of mind?
Tripping over a tree root on his way back to Andy, he laughed quietly. Guess not.
Andy led him down a flagstone walkway which wove through dense stands of trees and underbrush. Rounding a curve, he saw a small cottage, all on one floor, surrounded by an effusive overgrowth of flowers and greenery planted in the wild, riotous way of English gardens. Fairy lights twinkled here and there, giving the grounds an enchanted look.
Andy marched to the front door and knocked. Zach weaved a bit before leaning against his friend’s arm. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, just… you know. Feeling good.”
“If I was feeling as good as you right now, I’d be passed out somewhere.”
Zach muffled his laughter in Andy’s shoulder. “Perhaps Sky went out to find the moon,” he suggested nonsensically and giggled again.
The door opened, and Zach turned to look at the person who stood there, backlit with warm yellow light. Tall, slender, wearing some kind of dark diaphanous robe or caftan, she sported black hair that fell over her shoulders to her breasts. It was too dark to see her features.
“Andy,” she said in a low-pitched musical voice. “A little late, even for you.”
“I apologize,” he said, “but my friend needs something to help him sleep.”
The woman’s eyes moved to him, and he made an effort to appear sober. “Hi.”
He heard the smile in her voice when she said, “You’re drunk.”
Zach laughed. So much for that. “I am… a little.”
“You can take nothing tonight. It’s not good to mix alcohol with medicine, and my herbs are medicine.” She stepped back. “Come in.”